Sabrina V. Helm, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Co-Director of CESI - Consumers, Environment & Sustainability Initiative
Retailing and Consumer Sciences
650 N Park Ave
Tucson, Arizona 85721-0078
(520) 621-7130

Working as a faculty member at the Norton School, I am responsible for providing a first-class learning experience for my undergraduate as well as my graduate students. When I came to Arizona from my home country, Germany, in 2008, I encountered vast differences in the educational systems that translate into differing expectations, achievements and desires of students, faculty and society. Living and working here, as well as profiting from UA’s constructive environment, is a great learning experience for me. My experiences provide me with an opportunity to reflect on, adapt to and shape this new environment I find myself in. This might also explain the characteristics I greatly value in my students: creativity, determination, a penchant for critical reflection and a positive attitude toward change.

I believe that we all can and should make a difference–by actions, not proclamations. As a researcher, it is humbling to realize how little difference we actually make with most of our projects and publications, aiming at a selected few reviewers and readers. However, we can achieve significantly more if we try to focus on what our expertise and curiosity can do for the society that we are an integral part of. I strongly believe that research is critical for a flourishing society and economy and that education is one of the most important values a government and its citizens need to uphold.

My favorite pastime is hiking Arizona’s mountains and canyons. I do “triple rims,” crossing the Grand Canyon twice in a day (if all goes well…). But I also like to pause and enjoy the beauty of this land—beauty that lies within its biggest features, such as the rugged “GC” but also within its smallest inhabitants, such as wildflowers and birds. Arizona is home to 18 species of hummingbirds. They are magnificent creatures: cute and pretty; fierce and resilient; a humbling wonder of “natural technology." Getting “buzzed” by one of these tiny skyrockets in my backyard makes my day.

Areas of Expertise

Consumer social responsibility 

Sustainable consumption

Corporate reputation management


Referral management

Research Focus

I conduct research in three main areas:

I analyze customers’ referral behavior and how companies can make use of it, as well as customers’ reactions to the management of their word of mouth. For instance, I conduct experiments on how consumers react to incentives that are being paid in referral campaigns.

I also investigate how the reputation of companies impacts their stakeholders’ perceptions and behavior. One study that I conducted looked at how employees’ pride and commitment to their firm is affected by their employer’s reputation. For this research, I developed a measure for corporate reputation.

Finally, I am very interested in attempting to understand consumers’ perception of social responsibility. I started working in this entirely new research field upon coming to Arizona, and it has now became my “favorite pet.” I believe this a very worthwhile research endeavor because we live in a time and age where consumers need to take charge and cannot wait for government and/or corporations to change the way we live and consume. If we do not radically change our consumption patterns, life as we know it will cease to exist: what a drastic statement, and what a fantastic challenge for research!

Current Projects

  • Principal Investigator, Credibility of Senders of Incentivized Referrals. Collaborators: Ina Garnefeld, Anne Willach.
  • Principal Investigator, Reputation as a Moderator on Consumers’ Crises Perception and Loyalty. Collaborators: Rena Shifren, Anubha Mishra.
  • Principal Investigator, Industry Reputation. Collaborators: Michael Ahearne, Thomas Brown, Peter Dacin.
  • Principal Investigator, Consumer Social Responsibility in Water Conservation. Collaborator: Anubha Mishra.

Subjects Taught

  • Consumer behavior (undergraduate)
  • Marketing strategy (undergraduate)
  • Research process and academic writing (graduate)

Select Publications

Please contact Dr. Sabrina Helm if you are unable to locate any of the publications listed below:

Helm, S. (2007). One Reputation or Many? Comparing Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Corporate Reputation, Corporate Communications.
Helm, S., Rolfes, L., & Guenter, B. (2006). Suppliers’ Willingness to End Unprofitable Customer Relationships. European Journal of Marketing.
Helm, S. (2006). Exploring the Impact of Corporate Reputation on Consumer Satisfaction and Loyalty.
Journal of Customer Behaviour.
Helm, S. (2005). Designing a Formative Measure of Corporate Reputation. Corporate Reputation Review.
Helm, S. (2004). Customer Valuation as a Driver of Relationship Dissolution. Journal of Relationship Marketing.
Helm, S. (2003). Calculating the Value of Customers’ Referrals. Managing Service Quality.

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